Rolex Middle Sea Race 2014 - Day 6 - Maltese Heroes - Tough conditions off Malta as GREY GOOSE (GBR) approaches the finish
Thursday has proved another dramatic day in the story of the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race. While yesterday (Wednesday) was a day of seamanship and survival as yachts battled storm force winds, it was also a day of arrivals as the same winds pushed competitors to the finish. However, it will be Thursday that is remembered most in years to come. In the early hours of this morning, Lee Satariano’s Artie was the first Maltese yacht to finish, a proud moment in itself. A few hours later, with part of the fleet still on the course but unable to better Artie’s time, the J122 was announced as the overall winner.
Lee Satariano’s J122 Artie crossed the finish line at 00:45h, after 4 days, 13 hours, 35 minutes and 05 second at sea. Shortly after the Royal Malta Yacht Club made the official announcement that he and his crew had won the overall prize, Satariano commented: “I can’t believe it. To win such a prestigious race, one of the most high level offshore races in the world, being a local boat and a local team is a great achievement.” This is the second title for Artie, after victory in 2011.
The faces of the crews arriving at the Royal Malta Yacht Club since yesterday morning show a mix of exhaustion, happiness, relief and a huge sense of achievement. Outside Marsamxett Harbour, conditions have improved, but the wind is still blowing hard and the sea state is anything but friendly.
Christian Ripard, co-skipper of Artie, and a highly experienced and respected offshore yachtsman was in awe of the situation on the course: “I have to say last time I saw a sea like this it was during a windy Rolex Sydney Hobart. To have those conditions for over 24 hours is very rare, almost exceptional.”
Proof of the extraordinarily difficult conditions lies in the number of retirees to date - 48 by 15.00 CEST – and the litany of damage reported by the fleet, even close to the finish. “The pin of our keel failed just as we left the Comino channel”, said the mightily-relieved Portuguese Diogo Cayolla, skipper of Kuka-Light (SUI) after docking in Malta. Last night French yacht Teasing Machine lost her mast within 20 miles of the finish.
By 15.00 CEST on Day 6, 42 boats have managed to finish the race and 32 are still officialy racing. For those still at sea it is all about trying to make it to Malta before time limit at 08.00CEST on Saturday morning. And to do so in one piece.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race is organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club and has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002.
Further information on the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race can be found at www.rolexmiddlesearace.com
Photo : Rolex / Kurt Arrigo